Former Eagles Owner May be Kingmaker in GOP Presidential Race

Norman Braman is committing up to $10 million (or more) to Marco Rubio's campaign.

Supporters reach out to touch Norman Braman Tuesday, March 15, 2011 before he ate lunch at a Cuban cafe in Miami.  | AP

Supporters reach out to touch Norman Braman Tuesday, March 15, 2011 before he ate lunch at a Cuban cafe in Miami. | AP

Once upon a time, he was the man known for firing Buddy Ryan and letting Reggie White leave town, but these days Norman Braman — the former Eagles owner now located in Miami — is seeking a different legacy: As GOP kingmaker.

Braman is said to have committed at least $10 million to the presidential campaign of GOP contender Sen. Marco Rubio. “Marco Rubio will have the resources necessary to run a first-class campaign, that’s already been determined,” Braman told Forward earlier this spring.

The New York Times reports:

A detailed review of their relationship shows that Mr. Braman, 82, has left few corners of Mr. Rubio’s world untouched. He hired Mr. Rubio, then a Senate candidate, as a lawyer; employed his wife to advise the Braman family’s philanthropic foundation; helped cover the cost of Mr. Rubio’s salary as an instructor at a Miami college; and gave Mr. Rubio access to his private plane.

The money has flowed both ways. Mr. Rubio has steered taxpayer funds to Mr. Braman’s favored causes, successfully pushing for an $80 million state grant to finance a genomics center at a private university and securing $5 million for cancer research at a Miami institute for which Mr. Braman is a major donor.

Even in an era dominated by super-wealthy donors, Mr. Braman stands out, given how integral he has been not only to Mr. Rubio’s political aspirations but also to his personal finances.

Politico adds:

Braman, a former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football franchise, is poised to occupy the sugar-daddy role for Rubio that, in 2012, Sheldon Adelson played for Newt Gingrich, and Foster Friess played for Rick Santorum: the megacontributor who kept their candidacies afloat even after other donors had written them off.

The Miami businessman, Braman’s friends say, is considering spending anywhere from $10 million to $25 million — and possibly even more — on Rubio’s behalf, a cash stake that could potentially alter the course of the Republican race by enabling the Florida senator to wage a protracted fight for the nomination.